The Great Escape (U.S. TV series)
|The Great Escape|
|Presented by||Rich Eisen|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||9|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Original release||June 24, 2012– August 26, 2012|
The Great Escape is a reality television series on TNT that premiered on June 24, 2012, at 10:00 pm EDT. The competition series, hosted by Rich Eisen, features three two-person teams each week who are dropped "into the middle of their own epic action/adventure movie" and competing for a cash prize. The show is produced by Imagine Television directors Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and The Amazing Race producers, Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri. The series finished airing on August 26, 2012 and was cancelled in October 2012.
TNT ordered a pilot episode of The Great Escape from Imagine Entertainment in November 2010, with both Ron Howard and Brian Grazer serving as executive producers, and was considered an initial foray into the reality television market for the network. Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, the creators of The Amazing Race, were added as executive producers in mid-2011, prior to casting and filming of the pilot. Subsequently, in January 2012, TNT announced that it has greenlit ten episodes (only airing nine of them) of The Great Escape, stating that the program has "all the heart-pounding excitement and nail-biting suspense of a summer popcorn movie".
The show was produced as to create an experience for the players and the audience of being inside a movie; Howard noted that the elements of clues and puzzle-solving bring to mind his earlier films, The Da Vinci Code and Apollo 13. After selecting a site, the route is carefully crafted as to keep contestants from going too far off the target course, particularly in dangerous environment such as a bayou. Production arrives about a week before filming to prepare the area and create any necessary props for the challenge or the course; in the case of the bayou, homemade shacks were constructed for the starting point for the teams. Challenges are tested to make sure that they are doable within reasonable time prior to filming. Contestant are given as much freedom as necessary to complete the game, with production stepping in only to stop players from certain actions.
Each episode is a single competition among three teams of two contestants with a previous relationship, such as family relations, lifelong friends, or married or dating couples. Teams are identified by the color of shirts they wear.
The teams are escorted while blindfolded to an undisclosed location, which varies with each episode. They are locked in cells with the game's "Detainment Zone" that include a concealed map and the means to release themselves from their cell (such as with a key or with a set of bolt-cutters). When the game starts, teams must find the map, free themselves, and follow the instructions on the map to the first of four stages. Each stage includes a physical or mental challenge the teams must complete that gives them directions to the next stage, a part of a larger "Escape Key", and other miscellaneous tools such as flashlights, which are used as part of the next Stage or for their transport. Teams must complete these tasks on their own, typically each given their own identical station, puzzle, or set of equipment to work with. When traversing between stages or working on challenges, teams must avoid detection by "guards" and/or spotlights. If they are spotted, the guard yells out, "(Red/Blue/Green) team, stop!", and the captured players are forced to drop all current implements (other than the map) to be re-escorted to the Detainment Zone, where they then must again find the means to escape from detainment. Once free, they can proceed to the point they were captured and recover their equipment, but again must avoid detection by the guards. An announcer broadcasts to all teams when a team has escaped from their cell, completed the next stage, quit the game, or has been captured by guards, allowing other teams to judge their progress. The announcer also broadcasts when the competition is over and which team won. The other two teams are not shown completing the other tasks.
After completing four stages, the teams will need to assemble the Great Escape Key to identify their final destination and reach a "Transport Zone" to be taken to this place. The first team to successfully arrive at this destination (where the host is) with the completed Escape Key is awarded the $100,000 prize.
|No.||Title||Results||Original air date||Viewers|
|Winning team||Second place||Third place|
|1||"Escape from Alcatraz"||Red||Green||Blue||June 24, 2012||1.616|
Location: Alcatraz Island
Teams began being locked into cells in the main cell block (or the detainment zone), and had to locate a map and a key to release themselves from the cell, heading towards the recreation yard.
Results: Red wins the grand prize of $100,000 with Green and Blue finishing second and third respectively. Green arrived at the finish point later than Red while Blue were still on Alcatraz when it was announced that the Red team had won.
|2||"Escape from the USS Hornet"||Red||Green||Blue||July 1, 2012||1.410|
Location: USS Hornet (CV-12)
Teams began being locked inside USS Hornet's brig (or the detainment zone), and had to retrieve a pair of wire cutters outside their cell to unlock themselves from their cells.
Results: Red wins with Green and Blue finishing second and third respectively. Green was on the Transport Zone's Platform and Blue was still inside USS Hornet when it was announced that the Red team had won.
|3||"Escape from the Institution"||Red||Green||Blue||July 8, 2012||1.249|
Location: Preston Castle
All teams started in the detainment zone, where they were restrained the way patients were "back in the day". They had to break free from the restraints and find the map hidden somewhere in the room. Prior to the remaining stages, the teams had to rappel down a bedsheet-rope.
Results: Red wins with Green and Blue finishing second and third respectively. Green was at the Transport Zone trying to figure out the final destination and Blue was still inside The Institution when it was announced that the Red team had won.
|4||"Escape from Titan Missile Silo"||Green||Blue||Red||July 15, 2012||1.160|
Location: Titan Missile Silo
Teams were locked inside a Titan missile silo in Arizona, handcuffed to pipes within makeshift cages at the bottom of the silo. To escape, they had to grab a key to the handcuffs that hung from a chain between them.
Results: Green wins with Blue and Red finishing second and third respectively. Green defeated Blue by a hair. Red was still at the crate of Stage 4 when it was announced that the Green team had won.
|5||"Escape from Air Force Boneyard"||Red||Blue||Green||July 22, 2012||1.096|
Location: The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group airplane boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
Unlike previous escapes, this took place during the day, with increasing temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C). For this escape, teams had to avoid being in sight of patrolling vehicles that drove prescribed paths around the boneyard. Teams started the escape tied up within one of the abandoned planes, and had to find their map and a black light flashlight that identified a panel to exit from. They then collected a rucksack containing a shovel and other supplies.
Results: Red wins with Blue finishing second. Blue were inside the Galaxy's cockpit trying to complete Stage 4 when it was announced that the Red team had won. The Green team dropped out after one member suffered from the effects of heat stroke at the first stage.
|6||"Escape from Los Angeles"||Blue||Red||Green||August 5, 2012||1.006|
Location: Los Angeles
Teams had to escape from a maze of underground corridors and city streets in downtown Los Angeles. They were locked in cages within one of the underground corridors and had to escape via a floor hatch after locating their map.
Results: Blue wins with Red finishing second. Red was on their way to the final destination when it was announced that the Blue team had won. Green quit trying to locate City Hall/Stage 3 due to their failures to prevent several captures.
|7||"Escape from the Power Station"||Green||Blue||Red||August 12, 2012||0.81|
Teams has to release themselves from the top of cooling towers and climb tower to escape the containment zone.
Results: Green wins with Blue and Red finishing second and third respectively. Blue was only minutes behind at arriving at the final destination. Red was still at Stage 3 when the announcement of Green winning occurred.
|8||"Escape from the Swamp"||Red||Green||Blue||August 19, 2012||1.067|
Results: Red wins with Green and Blue finishing second and third respectively. Green arrived at the final destination seconds later (Green not shown arriving) and Blue was getting ready to paddle towards the final destination when the announcement of Red winning occurred.
|9||"Escape from the Tower"||Green||Red||Blue||August 26, 2012||0.873|
Teams were tied by their ankles and confined in ventilation ducts at the top of the skyscraper. They had to locate scissors and their map to escape.
Results: Green wins with Red and Blue finishing second and third respectively. Red had just left the Transport Zone's dumpsters and Blue was just completing Stage 3's labyrinth of security lights when the announcement of Green winning occurred.
The Great Escape has been likened to The Amazing Race and, in at least one case, considered a "lite" version of the latter show. Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times felt that though there was little chance to get to know the individual teams as one would on The Amazing Race, the shorter format avoids the post-show celebrity pitfalls; McNamara noted that "The contestants are playing a game, not transforming themselves as human beings". Rodney Ho, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, felt each episode was like a mini-movie with "ultra-cool" venues and "thumping, dramatic music", but the challenges offered in the opening episodes were "less interesting" and "not nearly as outrageous" as challenges on other reality shows. Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette felt the show was "overly produced", such as the means by which the guards are to detect the teams, and that with teams rotating in each week, it was "pretty much impossible to invest in characters who are essentially guest stars".
The first episode had received approximately 1.6 million viewers, but lost nearly half of those by the season finale, facing competition from other shows on Sunday night in the summer block; in comparison, TNT's dramas such as The Closer and Major Crimes had viewerships in excess of 7 million through the summer and were the highest watched shows for the network. TNT announced in October 2012 that it has not opted for a second season of the show, though will continue to test out other unscripted shows for their network.
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- General references